Pointless grade tampering

7th January 2005 at 00:00
I do hope if these A* and A** grades are introduced it will be by increasing the challenge of the courses and the papers rather than just increasing the marks required to get a top grade (TES, December 10.) It would be a test of who did not make a silly mistake rather than genuine excellence.

However, I feel these "super grades" are entirely missing the point. The other little-mentioned fact is that one does not hear of too many A grades in maths, physics, chemistry or languages.

Schools calculate target grades in A-level subjects from GCSE results. Some subjects, strangely those above, require a very high GCSE average to "predict" an A grade. Others do so on a more modest score.

Maybe the exam boards need to be instructed to beef up those courses to the level of the most demanding. A set percentage of top grades as the Tories propose would exacerbate this difference.

Much about our current system is excellent; AS has encouraged high standards by getting the lower sixth to do more work and making the standards jump over two years increases confidence. In my experience this improvement has been particularly noticeable among boys who need the "kick" administered by modules more.

Making AS-levels 40 per cent rather than 50 per cent of the A-level might be necessary, and more challenging questions are needed, but otherwise it is working well. Let us address the small number of real problems and celebrate the very real success rather than go in for pointless breast-beating.

Karen Revans. 20 Quantock Close. North Petherton, Somerset

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now